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Implementing Extensive Reading in University EAP Writing Classes

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Item Summary

Title:Implementing Extensive Reading in University EAP Writing Classes
Authors:Park, Jeongyeon
Date Issued:Aug 2015
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2015]
Abstract:This study explores the effectiveness of incorporating extensive reading (ER) into an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) writing class at a university. Although previous research has shown positive effects of ER on diverse aspects of target language learning, little attention has been given to its usefulness for second language writing development. In addition, limitations such as long-term curricular commitments or time constraints have hampered the application of ER in higher education contexts. Therefore, the present study was designed in an attempt to investigate whether ER can be meaningfully implemented in an EAP writing class and whether it can bring about improvement in second language (L2) writing, with the hope of providing insight on this under-researched area.
Eighty-four students enrolled in intermediate EAP writing classes participated in the study. For the purpose of the study, six participating classes were divided into two groups: a control group and a treatment group. The treatment group’s (n = 44) classes were designed to help students regularly engage in ER in and outside the classroom across one academic semester, by substituting ER for a certain amount of in-class writing practice and homework assigned to the control group (n = 40). However, both groups otherwise followed the same curriculum, with similar lesson materials and instructional features, including teacher lectures, student activities, and major course assignments. Data were collected through pre- and post-tests administered at the beginning and the end of the semester in order to measure possible impacts of ER on the students’ writing development. An extensive reading survey and interviews were also conducted to examine in depth students’ reactions toward ER and their perceptions of the usefulness of ER.
The analysis of the student essays revealed that frequent exposure to easy reading materials in the form of pleasure reading brought about improvement in students’ writing performance on the posttest. While both groups’ writing improved, a holistic rating indicated that the treatment group performed significantly better than the control group on the posttest. In support of this finding, an analytic rating of the essays showed specifically that the treatment group made greater gains in content, organization, vocabulary, language use, and mechanics. An objective rating, assessed with a variety of measures, revealed that the two groups showed different kinds of improvement; while the treatment group displayed increased accuracy and fluency, the control group exhibited increased fluency with decreased complexity across the two tests.
The extensive reading survey and the interviews found that the students had favorable reactions to engaging in ER, and that they believed it to be helpful in their English learning. In particular, the students recognized that ER integrated with writing activities played an important role in improving the quality of their target language learning experience as the semester progressed.
These findings offer several important implications. Adding empirical evidence to the current literature on ER, the study contributes to deepening our understanding of the effectiveness of ER in writing development. Moreover, the study points to a potentially important role for ER in an EAP context, thereby suggesting that ER’s applications in higher education could usefully be expanded. From a pedagogic perspective, the results of the study are hopeful in that they show that ER can be integrated into EAP contexts, and that it can help students increase their practice of reading and writing in the L2, which may in the long term play a critical role in building a solid foundation for academic literacies.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Second Language Studies

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